Big piece to Notre Dame defensive puzzle back in place for 2022

Justin Frommer
ND Insider

A week that saw multiple defensive contributors announce intentions to return to Notre Dame for the 2022 football season ended in one of the biggest reveals of the offseason.

On Saturday afternoon, starting defensive end Isaiah Foskey announced via social media that he would return for a fourth season in South Bend. 

Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey (7) during the Notre Dame-USC NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Foskey, who will be in his senior season in 2022, registered 11 sacks this year, the third most in a season in Notre Dame history. 

A four-star edge rusher from California in the 2019 class, Foskey finished the year with 52 total tackles, good for fourth on the Irish, only behind JD Bertrand, Drew White and Clarence Lewis. He also recorded a team-leading 12.5 tackles for loss. 

One of his bigger games this year was in Notre Dame's season-opening win at Florida State, when he recorded eight tackles and two sacks. He also recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles in the home win over Southern California and finished the season with five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in Notre Dame's 37-35 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day. 

Foskey is the third major contributor on Notre Dame's defensive line to announce their intentions to return for 2022, joining Jayson and Justin Ademilola, which will help offset the losses of nose tackle Kurt Hinish and defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. 

Jayson Ademilola recorded 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season, while Justin recorded 34 tackles and 5.5 sacks. 

DJ Brown, a senior safety, also will return to give first-year head coach Marcus Freeman a strong core of experienced defensive players to lean on. 

The Irish also picked up a transfer portal commitment from Brandon Joseph, a 2021 preseason All-American who played the last three seasons at Northwestern. 

This week Freeman boosted his coaching staff, hiring former Ohio State teammate James Laurinaitis to an unconfirmed role, former Cincinnati special teams coordinator Brian Mason to this same role at Notre Dame and, as of reports Friday, Harry Hiestand, who is returning to his old job as the offensive line coach, replacing Jeff Quinn. Freeman still has to find a replacement for wide receivers coach, Del Alexander, who reportedly left the program last week. 

The Irish open the 2022 season Sept, 3 at Ohio State.